Greetings, speed lovers!
Are you ready to fast-track your excitement?
Race into our list of racing sports, sorted by popularity.
From high-velocity pros to adrenaline-pumping beginners, there’s a thrilling challenge for everyone!
Racing Sports List
- Track Running
- Auto Racing
- Motorcycle Racing
- Cross Country Running
- Trail Running
- Formula Racing
- Road Bicycle Racing
- Track Cycling
Table of Contents
Running, one of the most ancient sports, dates back to the origins of humanity. Competitive running began with the first Olympic Games in 776 BCE in Greece.
Today, running is a globally popular sport, with events ranging from 100-meter sprints to ultra-marathons. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) governs the sport.
Running has been a part of the Olympic program since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Latest Posts about Running
#2 Track Running
Track running is a type of running sport that takes place on a 400-meter oval track. It has been part of the Olympic Games since their inception in 1896 and includes events like sprints, middle-distance, long-distance, hurdles, and relays.
Track running is popular worldwide, with major events such as the IAAF World Championships and Diamond League. The IAAF is the sport’s governing body.
#3 Auto Racing
Auto racing, also known as motor racing or car racing, began in 1894 with the first organized automobile race from Paris to Rouen, France. The sport gained momentum in the early 1900s, with the establishment of races like the Indianapolis 500 in the USA.
Today, auto racing enjoys worldwide popularity with events like Formula One, NASCAR, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) governs auto racing.
#4 Motorcycle Racing
Motorcycle racing traces its origins to the first motorcycle race held in 1897 in Surrey, England. The sport has since diversified into various disciplines like road racing, motocross, and track racing.
Today, motorcycle racing is popular globally, especially events like MotoGP and Superbike World Championship. The sport’s governing body is the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
#5 Cross Country Running
Cross country running, a long-distance running sport, began in the 19th century in England. The sport typically takes place on open-air courses with natural terrain, including grass, mud, and hills.
Cross country running gained global popularity and was part of the Olympics from 1912 to 1924. Today, its major international event is the World Athletics Cross Country Championships, with the sport being governed by the IAAF.
#6 Trail Running
Trail running, an offshoot of cross country running, involves running on natural trails, often through hills, forests, and mountainous terrain. The sport rose to prominence in the 1970s in the USA and Europe.
It enjoys worldwide popularity today, particularly in events like the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and the Western States 100. Though not an Olympic sport, trail running is governed by the International Trail Running Association (ITRA).
#7 Formula Racing
Formula racing is a type of single-seater, open-wheel car racing that originated in Europe after World War II. Formula One, its most popular and prestigious form, began its first season in 1950.
Today, Formula One races are held in numerous countries worldwide and are regulated by the FIA. The most illustrious race on the Formula One calendar is the Monaco Grand Prix.
Cycling, which dates back to 1817 with the invention of the “running machine” by Karl von Drais, became a competitive sport with the first recorded race in Paris in 1868.
Cycling is popular worldwide and includes various disciplines like road, track, mountain biking, and cyclo-cross. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) governs the sport, and cycling has been part of the Olympic program since the first modern Games in 1896.
Latest Posts about Cycling
#9 Road Bicycle Racing
Road bicycle racing, a subset of cycling, began in the late 19th century with races like Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Brest-Paris. The sport’s showcase event, the Tour de France, began in 1903.
Today, road bicycle racing is popular worldwide with events such as Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and the UCI Road World Championships. The sport is governed by the UCI and has been an Olympic event since 1896.
#10 Track Cycling
Track cycling, another variation of cycling, occurs on specially designed velodromes – banked oval tracks. The sport dates back to the late 19th century and is popular worldwide.
Major events include the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the World Cup, and the Six Day Series. Track cycling has been part of the Olympic Games since their modern inception in 1896 and is governed by the UCI.
More Racing Sports
- Mountain Biking: Originated in the 1970s in California, mountain biking gained rapid popularity and is now widely enjoyed worldwide. The sport contains various disciplines, including cross-country, downhill, and freeride. Mountain biking became an Olympic sport in 1996, with the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) governing it and organizing the Mountain Bike World Championships.
- Downhill Mountain Biking: A subset of mountain biking, downhill mountain biking evolved in the 1980s and features steep, challenging descents. It is popular in regions with diverse terrains, such as North America, Europe, and Oceania. The UCI hosts the Downhill World Cup series and the Downhill World Championships, and though not an Olympic event, it remains a spectacular form of racing.
- BMX Racing: Short for Bicycle Motocross racing, BMX racing began in the early 1970s in California, taking elements from motocross racing. It features riders navigating a challenging dirt racecourse with jumps and tight turns. BMX Racing rose to global fame and became an Olympic sport in 2008; the sport is regulated by the UCI.
- Swimming: Swimming is an ancient sport that dates back to the Stone Age, around 7,000 BCE. Today, it is popular worldwide, with competitive swimming events held across the globe. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) governs the sport, which first appeared in the Olympics in 1896. The Summer Olympics feature numerous swimming events every four years, and the World Swimming Championships are held biennially.
- Open Water Swimming: A variation of swimming, open water swimming gained popularity in the 19th century with races in London’s River Thames. The sport involves swimming in natural bodies of water, such as oceans, lakes, or rivers. Open water swimming is popular worldwide, and the highlight event is the FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships. It became an Olympic sport in 2008.
- Rock Climbing: Although rock climbing has roots in ancient times, it emerged as a sport in the 19th century in Europe. It is now popular globally, with competitions in disciplines like lead climbing, bouldering, and speed climbing. Sport climbing made its Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Games, with the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) governing it.
- Speed Climbing: A competitive form of rock climbing, speed climbing, involves athletes scaling a standardized wall as quickly as possible. The sport gained popularity in the late 20th century and is part of the Olympic sport climbing program that began in 2020. The IFSC governs speed climbing and organizes the World Cup Series and the World Championships.
- Skiing: Skiing has a long history, with evidence of its existence dating back over 4,000 years in what is now Norway and Sweden. Today, skiing is a popular winter sport globally, including alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and freestyle skiing. The International Ski Federation (FIS) governs skiing, and it has been part of the Winter Olympic Games since their inception in 1924.
- Alpine Skiing: Also known as downhill skiing, alpine skiing originated in the European Alps in the late 19th century. The sport involves descending slopes on skis with fixed-heel bindings and has achieved worldwide popularity. Major alpine skiing events include the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Alpine skiing has been a part of the Winter Olympic program since 1936.
- Tower Running: Tower running, a relatively new sport, involves ascending skyscrapers’ staircases as quickly as possible. The sport gained popularity in the late 20th century with races in cities like New York, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Tower running is not an Olympic sport, but it has worldwide appeal and is governed by the Towerrunning World Association, which organizes the Towerrunning World Championships.
- Walking: Walking as a recreational and competitive sport has a long history, with pedestrianism – competitive long-distance walking – emerging in the 18th century in Britain. Today, walking events are popular worldwide, with racewalking being a part of the Olympic program since the 1908 London Games. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) governs competitive walking events.
- Racewalking: A form of competitive walking, racewalking, originated in Britain in the 19th century. It is now globally popular and features a distinct technique that requires one foot to be in contact with the ground at all times. Racewalking has been part of the Olympics since 1908, with the IAAF governing the sport.
- Animal Racing: Animal racing dates back to ancient civilizations, featuring various animals such as horses, camels, and dogs. The sport remains popular globally, with major events and locations specific to each type of animal racing. Various governing bodies and organizations oversee the rules and regulations for their respective forms of animal racing.
- Horse Racing: One of the oldest sports, horse racing, traces its origins back to ancient civilizations and cultures, such as Greece, Babylon, Egypt, and Syria. Today, it enjoys immense global popularity, with prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby, the Royal Ascot, and the Melbourne Cup. National and regional governing bodies regulate horse racing worldwide.
- Camel Racing: Camel racing, a traditional sport in the Middle East and North Africa, dates back thousands of years. It is popular mainly in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Major events include the Dubai Camel Racing Festival and the Camel Cup. Various regional and local organizations govern the sport.
- Greyhound Racing: Originating in the early 20th century in the United States and the United Kingdom, greyhound racing showcases the speed and agility of greyhounds chasing a mechanical lure around a track. The sport is most popular in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland. National governing bodies regulate greyhound racing in their respective countries.
- Sled Dog Racing: Sled dog racing, a winter sport with roots in indigenous North American cultures, features teams of dogs pulling sleds over snow-covered landscapes. It is popular primarily in countries with cold climates, like Canada, the United States, Russia, and Scandinavian nations. The International Federation of Sleddog Sports (IFSS) governs the sport, and the most famous race is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.
- Pigeon Racing: Pigeon racing, a competitive sport in which homing pigeons are released to fly back to their homes, started in the mid-19th century in Belgium. The sport is popular in regions with pigeon racing traditions, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Asia. Various national and regional organizations govern pigeon racing events worldwide.
- Bull Racing: Bull racing, also known as pacu jawi, originated from West Sumatra, Indonesia, and dates back centuries. It is most popular in regions with cultural or traditional connections, like parts of India, Spain, and Indonesia. The sport, generally organized by regional or local bodies, involves jockeys riding bulls or holding onto them while they race down a track.
- Ostrich Racing: Originating in Africa, ostrich racing gained popularity as an exotic novelty sport. Today, it is most popular in South Africa and some parts of the United States. Racetracks hold special events featuring jockeys riding ostriches or ostrich-drawn carts. Ostrich racing does not have a central governing body, and events are typically organized by individual venues.
- Kart Racing: Also known as go-kart racing, the sport emerged in the 1950s in the United States. Kart racing serves as an accessible, grassroots form of motorsport from which many professional racers have entered other disciplines such as Formula One. Kart racing is popular around the world, with organizations like the Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK) governing the sport and hosting the Karting World Championship.
- Rally Racing: Rally racing, a form of off-road auto racing, originated in the early 20th century in Europe with races such as the Monte Carlo Rally. The sport is popular worldwide, with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) governing it and hosting the World Rally Championship. Rally racing features drivers navigating through various terrains and challenging courses, with the goal of achieving the quickest possible time.
- Boat Racing: Boat racing has a long history, with ancient civilizations like Egypt and Rome engaging in competitive rowing. Today, boat racing is globally popular and encompasses various types such as powerboat racing, rowing, sailing, and canoe racing. Several governing bodies oversee the sport and its many forms, with some racing disciplines being a part of the Olympic program.
- Canoe Racing: Canoe racing, a form of paddling that involves propelling a canoe through water, traces its origins back thousands of years to indigenous cultures worldwide. The sport gained modern popularity, and canoe sprint and canoe slalom became Olympic sports in 1936 and 1972, respectively. The International Canoe Federation (ICF) governs canoe racing.
- Dragon Boat Racing: Originating in ancient China over 2,000 years ago, dragon boat racing involves teams paddling long, ornate boats adorned with dragon heads and tails. It is popular in Asia and has spread worldwide. The International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) organizes the World Championships for dragon boat racing.
- Rowing: A water sport in which participants propel a boat using oars, rowing is popular on rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, with various types of boats and competitions. Rowing has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games, and the International Rowing Federation (FISA) oversees the sport.
- Sailing: An ancient sport that involves navigating a boat using the power of wind, sailing is popular in coastal areas and large lakes. The World Sailing governing body oversees the sport, with various types of boats and competitions.
- Yacht Racing: A form of sailing, yacht racing, involves navigating a large boat, or yacht, through a designated course, often over long distances. The sport is popular in areas with yachting traditions, such as Europe, the United States, and Australia. Key events include the America’s Cup, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and the Fastnet Race. World Sailing governs yacht racing.
- Board Racing: Board racing sports take on various forms, such as longboarding, sandboarding, slalom skateboarding, and street luge. These sports are popular globally and involve athletes using various boards to race through courses or navigate obstacles. Several organizations oversee individual board racing sports, and some competitions have achieved international recognition.
- Longboarding: A variation of skateboarding, longboarding involves riding a longer, wider board and is popular for racing, downhill riding, and even transportation. The sport emerged in the 1950s and 1960s in California and Hawaii. Longboarding competitions, such as the International Distance and Supercross Association (IDSA) events, take place worldwide.
- Sandboarding: Sandboarding is a boardsport and extreme sport similar to snowboarding that involves descending a sand dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board. The sport, whose roots can be traced back to ancient Egypt, has become increasingly popular in desert areas of the United States, Australia, and South America. The World Sandboarding Championship, held annually, is one of the sport’s major competitions. Sandboarding is not an Olympic sport.
- Slalom Skateboarding: Slalom skateboarding is a form of downhill skateboarding that involves navigating through a course of cones in the fastest time possible. It originated in the United States in the 1960s, as a competitive extension of sidewalk surfing or skateboarding. It is popular in Europe and North America, and the International Slalom Skateboarding Association (ISSA) oversees the sport. Major competitions include the ISSA World Championships. The sport is not included in the Olympic Games.
- Street Luge: Street luge is an extreme gravity-powered activity that involves riding a street luge board (or sled) down a paved road or course. Originated in Southern California in the 1970s, it has since gained popularity in various parts of the world. The International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) governs the sport, with major competitions including the IGSA World Championships. Street Luge is not an Olympic sport.
- Air Racing: Air racing is a sport involving airplanes competing over a fixed course, with the winner being the fastest to finish or the one that completes the most laps. The sport began in France in 1909, with the first international event, the Gordon Bennett Cup. Today, it is popular worldwide, with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) governing the sport. Notable competitions include the Red Bull Air Race World Championship and the Reno Air Races. Air racing is not an Olympic sport.
- Drone Racing: Drone racing is a sport where participants control drones equipped with cameras while wearing head-mounted displays showing the live stream camera feed from the drones. It originated in Australia around 2014, and today it is governed by the Drone Racing League (DRL) and other similar organizations worldwide. The sport culminates annually in the DRL Allianz World Championship Season. Despite its international presence, drone racing is not an Olympic sport.
- Adventure Racing: Adventure racing is a multi-disciplinary team sport involving navigation over an unmarked wilderness course with races that can extend over several days. The sport has roots in the exploratory expeditions of history and gained modern popularity in the 1980s in New Zealand. Major competitions include the Adventure Racing World Series and the Eco-Challenge. Despite its global presence, adventure racing is not part of the Olympic Games.
- Surf Lifesaving: Surf lifesaving is a multifaceted movement that comprises key aspects of voluntary lifeguard services and competitive surf sport. Originating in Australia in the early 20th century, the sport is widely popular in countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and parts of Europe. Surf Lifesaving World Championships are the major international event, organized by the International Lifesaving Federation. It is not an Olympic sport.
- Marble Racing: Marble racing is a sport where marbles compete in races on tracks, often involving elaborate systems of channels or ramps. Originated in the Netherlands in the early 2000s, the sport became particularly popular during the 2020 pandemic. The sport is currently organized by Jelle’s Marble Runs, with the Marble League serving as the principal competition.
What are the most popular racing sports?
The most popular racing sports include running, track running, auto racing, motorcycle racing, cross country running, trail running, formula racing, cycling, road bicycle racing, and track cycling.
How many different racing sports are there?
Our racing sports list includes 48 unique racing sports